The captain had the absolute power in all situations concerning â€śfighting, chasing or being chasedâ€ť as Daniel Defoe puts it. He could even kill any pirate who refused to fight on the spot without
conferring with his crew mates.
As soon as the smoke of battle had settled, however, the quartermaster took over the command of the ship. It was he who divided the booty, decided where the ship would sail next and what was to happen
with the captured ship. The quartermaster also acted as judge in all fights between pirates and dealt with violations of rules by crewmen. Like the captain he had to have a strong personality and therefore most
pirate captains had served as quartermasters and had already commanded a smaller ship in that position.